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A Solo Travel Girl’s Guide to Hiking in Vancouver

If you’re looking for an active outdoor vacation, there’s no better place than beautiful British Columbia. Discover the best hiking in Vancouver and beyond in our guide below.

Best Places for Hiking in Vancouver

Vancouver is blessed with salty fresh air, rugged mountains, and an abundance of trees and greenery that make Canada’s biggest West Coast city a hiker’s paradise. Whether you want an easy stroll in nature or a muscle-aching challenge up some of Canada’s most beautiful forests, there are hiking trails in Vancouver for most fitness levels.

Lynn Loop

This North Vancouver hiking trail is a great introduction to British Columbia’s forest walking. This mostly flat, 5km hike takes you from the parking lot at Lynn Headwaters Regional Park through beautiful BC woodlands before looping around to follow Lynn Creek back to the beginning.

If it’s a clear day, head uphill at the “lookout” sign for some epic views of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Take the same route back to the Lynn Loop trail and carry on.

Don’t confuse Lynn Headwaters Regional Park with Lynn Canyon Park (with the suspension bridge). Although they are close, there’s about 3 kilometres between the two popular parks. Both parks offer stunning hiking in North Vancouver and are connected by trails if you’d like a longer walk.

Difficulty: Easy
Best hiking season: Year-round
Average hiking time: 90 minutes
Insider tip: No need to be alarmed but there have been cougars spotted in this area, so always be vigilant. If you do see one, don’t make any jarring movements or turn your back on it.

Hiking in Vancouver
A picture of the Grouse Mountain gondola with trees and low clouds
Hiking in Vancouver

Grouse Grind

There’s a reason this trail in North Vancouver is called “The Grind.” The infamous Grouse Grind will call for every muscle in your body to stand to attention, and you’ll probably be sore the next day. But the reward for reaching the summit of Grouse Mountain, 2800 feet above the city of Vancouver, is worth every huff and puff. There are signs post to break up the hiking trail into quarters, which is a great way for you to know how much longer to the top.

Much of this ever-popular Vancouver hike consists of stairs (2830, in fact) that were built out of necessity to protect the land, not to make it easier on hikers. And don’t worry about conquering the Grouse Grind Trail alone; you’ll be sure to meet plenty of other fitness buffs along the way.

Difficulty: High
Best hiking season: June-September (as late as December, depending on weather)
Average hiking time: 1-2 hours

Stanley Park

New York City has Central Park, and Vancouver has it’s very own urban oasis in Stanley Park. This 1001-acre city parkland is a maze of easy hiking near Vancouver’s downtown area and a source of serenity for city dwellers. Stanley Park is an ideal spot to mix tourist attractions with outdoor fitness.

Venture into the middle for the forest or wander the 10km perimeter, better known as the ‘seawall’ (you’ll share the paved walkway with bicycles). To get there, enter the park on West Georgia Street and head towards the Rose Gardens. From there, you can use the force to explore the many trails and check out popular sites like the Vancouver Aquarium and the Totem Poles or just indulge in some forest bathing.

Difficulty: Easy
Best hiking season: Year-round
Average hiking time: 2 hours for interior trails and 3 hours for the seawall

Stanley Park totem poles in Vancouver
Best Places for Hiking in Vancouver

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Another way to blend hiking in North Vancouver with a popular tourist adventure is a walk through the forests near the Capilano Suspension Bridge. This is a pay-to-enter park but you’ll get access to some amazing scenery and heart-pumping walkways.

Along with walking (or tiptoeing, as I did) across the famed suspension bridge, which is not for the faint-hearted, you’ll find the Treetops Adventure. It’s a series of timber walkways and suspension bridges that weave through ancient Douglas Fir and cedar trees, giving you a bird’s eye view of this beautiful forest area. And what’s interesting about this man-made Vancouver hiking trail is that no trees were harmed in the making. There aren’t any nails piercing the trees at Capilano Park, so you can hike and feel good that you’re truly in the midst of an eco-friendly paradise.

Difficulty: Easy
Best hiking season: Year-round rain or shine
Average hiking time: 2.5 hours
Insider tip: Take the free shuttle bus from downtown Vancouver

Eagle Bluffs

Hiking in West Vancouver’s Cypress Provincial Park offers some of the best views of the North Shore. The 9km round-trip hike to Eagle Bluffs begins, for many, at the Cypress Mountain parking lot. The bonus of this access point is that you’ll pass by Cabin Lake and Black Mountain. If the temperature allows, take a towel and stop for a swim in the picturesque lake.

It’s about 30-45 minutes to get to Cypress Mountain’s parking lot from Vancouver. Once there, the Black Moutain trail is well marked. This is a popular place for hiking around Vancouver, so be prepared to share the path with other nature lovers.

Difficulty: Intermediate
Best hiking season: June-October
Average hiking time: 4 hours
Insider tip: Bring your snowshoes in the winter months for a chilly, but fun adventure

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a person looking skyward while standing on an arched walkway in a misty forest
Hiking in Vancouver

Foreshore Trail

Hiking in Vancouver doesn’t always involve interior forests and cliffside views. The Foreshore Trail is a scenic 5-10km, multi-path seaside walk on the edge of a wooded park. You can go at your own pace here and do a little hiking or a lot.

Start at Spanish Banks Beach or the car park at Acadia Beach on NW Marine Drive. From there you’ll walk left along the beach and follow the shoreline. Much of this track is coastal, which may be rocky and slippery in places. Note that this hiking trail passes through Wreck Beach, which is Vancouver’s busy nudist beach.

There are several numbered trails that make up this Vancouver hike, so where you end will depend on your stamina and sense of adventure. To save being or feeling lost (or worse – see caution below), leave the trail by way of the stairs at Wreck Beach. You can get a bus back into the city at the UBC campus bus stop.

Difficulty: Easy-Intermediate
Best hiking season: Year-round
Average hiking time: 3-4 hours
Caution: Don’t attempt to hike this during high tide or you will find yourself in deep waters

Day Hiking Beyond Vancouver

Stawamus Chief

When you’re looking for the best hiking around Vancouver and beyond, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Squamish. From Vancouver, rent a car and travel 45 minutes north along the Sea to Sky Highway (the road to Whistler) for days of hiking in the Canadian wilderness. And if you’re looking for a next-level trek, check out the trails at Stawamus Chief.

Locally known The Chief, this hiking trail snakes 600 metres up its namesake mountain for a day of challenging adventure. Expect steep elevation, rocky paths, wooden stairs, a metal ladder, and a chain to help pull you up a difficult section. If this sounds too intimidating, don’t worry, you can hike to the first peak only. But there are three peaks and if you choose to do it all, it’s about 11 km round-trip.

Difficulty: Intermediate-High
Best hiking season: March-November
Average hiking time: 6 hours
Insider tip: The Chief is a popular base-jumping site near Vancouver, so don’t be surprised if you encounter parachute-wearing hikers.

Hiking in Vancouver
female in yellow raincoat and rust-coloured hat looking toward a foggy stream.
Hiking in Vancouver

Four Lakes Trail

For hiking near Vancouver that doesn’t involve scaling a mountain, head to Alice Lake Provincial Park, which is also close by to Squamish. This is classic Canada and could easily be a movie set. Think camping, playgrounds, picnic tables, lakes, fishing, Douglas Fir trees, and happy families out and about.

The Four Lakes Trail will take you through fragrant woods and past four lakes: Alice, Edith, Fawn, and Stump, on a six-kilometre loop walk that will feed your soul and nurture your need for calm. This walk in the woods is best coupled with a swim, so be sure to take a towel and pack a picnic to stay awhile.

Difficulty: Easy
Best hiking season: April-November
Average hiking time: 2 hours

Mount Finlayson Trail

Looking for day hiking on Vancouver Island? Look no further than Goldstream Provincial Park near Victoria. While there are many hikes (about 16km worth) to love and behold here, Mount Finlayson Trail is the one recommended by locals.

This trail is steep – over 1300km up rocky, potentially slippery, forest paths and old logging roads. But there are some gentler inclines throughout the hike, so don’t be put off. Getting to the top of Mount Finlayson may be challenging (and busy on weekends) but if the skies are clear, the visuals are stunning and wide.

Difficulty: Intermediate
Best hiking season: Year-round
Average hiking time: About 2 hours

Overnight Hiking Near Vancouver

Joffre Lakes

Although you can do this 10km round-trip hike in a day, it’s a beautiful place to camp overnight. The start of this hiking trail is located 182km from Vancouver (about 3 hours), just past the town of Pemberton. Joffre Lakes is a series of three turquoise-coloured alpine lakes, with a campsite near Upper Joffre Lake. Campsite reservations are a must.

On the trail, you’ll pass all three lakes and the path gets steeper and more challenging as you head higher into the mountains. The reward for making it to Upper Joffre is the sight of Matier Glacier. In warm, sunny weather you just may hear chunks of ice falling and crashing onto the rocks below.

Difficulty: Intermediate
Best hiking season: June-October
Average hiking time: 2 days (or more)
Insider tip: The mosquitoes here are relentless, so make sure to pack your favourite eco-friendly repellant or DEET spray in your daypack.

West Coast Trail

One of the great multi-day hiking trails on Vancouver Island is the West Coast Trail, which passes through the Pacific Rim National Park. But this trail is not for everyone.

Parks Canada recommends the WCT for fit, healthy hikers over 12 years old who are experienced in multi-day backcountry hiking. The 75km coastal track ventures through the rainforest, over slippery rocks, muddy tracks, long stretches of beach, and uneven surfaces. You’ll also cross streams and rivers, climb ladders, and push your body up steep hills and challenging landscapes.

Weather can be an issue on the west coast. Rain, fog, flooding, and inconsistent temperatures can delay hiking for hours or days. But if you’re ready to take it on, conquering the WCT can be a thrilling and rewarding experience.

Difficulty: High
Best hiking season: May 1-September 30
Average hiking time: 8-10 days
Insider tip: Make sure to plan and book ahead for this hike.

Ready for Some Hiking in Vancouver?

If you’re ready for an active outdoorsy vacation, Vancouver, British Columbia is a top destination. Use Skyscanner search engines to find cheap airfares, hotels, and car rentals.